Brief Communication abstract

Nature Neuroscience 12, 547 - 548 (2009)
Published online: 12 April 2009 | doi:10.1038/nn.2312

Coding of pleasant touch by unmyelinated afferents in humans

Line S Löken1,2, Johan Wessberg1, India Morrison1,2, Francis McGlone3,4 & Håkan Olausson1,2


Pleasant touch sensations may begin with neural coding in the periphery by specific afferents. We found that during soft brush stroking, low-threshold unmyelinated mechanoreceptors (C-tactile), but not myelinated afferents, responded most vigorously at intermediate brushing velocities (1-10 cm s-1), which were perceived by subjects as being the most pleasant. Our results indicate that C-tactile afferents constitute a privileged peripheral pathway for pleasant tactile stimulation that is likely to signal affiliative social body contact.

  1. Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
  2. Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden.
  3. Department of Neurological Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK.
  4. Sensation, Perception and Behaviour Group, Unilever R&D, Wirral, Cheshire, UK.

Correspondence to: Line S Löken1,2 e-mail:

Correspondence to: Håkan Olausson1,2 e-mail:


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